Robert Riggs is a Peabody Award-winning investigative reporter and content entrepreneur. He has received three coveted Alfred I. duPont Columbia University Journalism Awards for Investigative Reporting. The Peabody and duPont are respectively considered the broadcast TV equivalent of the Oscar and the Pulitzer.
Texas A&M University named Robert an Outstanding Alumnus from the College of Architecture in recognition of his journalistic accomplishments. It is a distinction received by fewer than 1% of the College’s graduates.
The TV show on Fox Nation Streaming is based on a 17-part series that Riggs launched on his True Crime Reporter® podcast in late 2020. The former death row inmate was released on parole under a cloud of corruption. McDuff started a killing spree the day after he walked out of prison, a free man.
Freed To Kill was honored with a 2022 Silver Telly Award two months after its release for best TV documentary. In 2021 the podcast was honored with a 25th Annual Webby Award for Best True Crime Podcast. Claire Graves, Executive Director of The Webby Awards, stated, “Honorees like Robert Riggs and the True Crime Reporter®’s podcast are setting the standard for innovation and creativity on the Internet. It is an incredible achievement to be selected among the best from the nearly 13,500 entries we received this year from 50 states and 70 countries.”
Freed To Kill also features former decorated U.S. prosecutor Bill Johnston who launched the manhunt for McDuff and prosecuted the Chairman of the Texas Parole Board who released McDuff. Johnston joined Riggs as an occasional cohost on the True Crime Reporter® podcast in 2022 to tell “real-life” crime stories based on their respective careers.
Riggs and Johnston are developing more television shows from their podcast episodes titled Case Files of the Texas Ranger Case – Untold Stories of Murders, Cold Cases, and Kidnappings. The Texas Department of Public Safety leadership and the Texas Rangers have pledged unprecedented support for their work.
Russell Molina, The Chairman of the 2023 Texas Ranger Bicentennial, invited both Riggs and Johnston to serve on its host committee along with President George W. Bush and Ross Perot Jr., stating, “When it comes to the Texas Rangers, Riggs is the quintessential journalist to tell their story and Johnston has worked elbow to elbow with Rangers to solve crimes.”
Riggs’ stories impacted millions of people during thousands of hours of reporting on television and online media. During some assignments, his reporting occurred under fire while he was embedded with the U.S. Army during the invasion of Iraq.
Among the three Alfred I. duPont Columbia Journalism Awards for Investigative Reporting, judges described his Gulf War report about the censorship of religious services for U.S. soldiers “as the story every other news organization missed.”
Riggs’ journalistic ethos is to illuminate important public issues, right wrongs, speak truth to power, expose corruption, and in some cases, save people from harm by violent criminals. Serial killers were caught, and terrorist networks were exposed. Corrupt public officials did time in federal prison behind Riggs’ reporting.
Riggs is a member of the FBI’s North Texas Chapter of InfraGard, which was formed in response to the 9/11 terror attacks. He is a longtime member of the Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE). It is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving investigative reporting around the world.
During his broadcast news career, Riggs covered the White House, Capitol Hill, The Pentagon, New York State Legislature, and the Texas Legislature.
He reported from the “eye of the storm” at the scene of breaking news stories of historical proportions, including the mass murder at a Luby’s Cafeteria in Texas, the 51-day Branch Davidian siege in Waco, the Oklahoma City bombing, the siege by Republic of Texas separatists, and three wars.
His reports appeared on WFAA-TV Channel 8 News, KTVT-TV CBS-11, CBS Evening News, CBS 60 Minutes, ABC Nightline, CNN, and ESPN.
Riggs’ peers in journalism recognized him as one of the nation’s premier investigative reporters. He received the coveted George Foster Peabody Award for Investigative Reporting and three Alfred I. duPont Columbia University Journalism Awards for Investigative Reporting.
Alfred I. duPont Columbia University Journalism Award presented to Robert Riggs in 1997 for Investigative Reporting.
Dallas Crime Commission Awards First Ever “Excellence in Crime Reporting Award” to Robert Riggs
The Dallas Crime Commission awarded its first-ever “Excellence in Crime Reporting Award” to Riggs in 1999. His reports uncovered how black tar heroin traffickers from Mexico preyed on teenagers in Plano, Texas. Dozens of teens suffered deadly overdoses, unaware that the “Chiva” they were taking was heroin.
American Bar Association Awards Silver Gavel Award To Robert Riggs
The American Bar Association awarded Riggs its Silver Gavel award in 1994 for his investigative series Free To Kill. He uncovered systemic corruption inside the Texas parole and prison systems. The investigation spanned more than three years and exposed allegations that Kenneth McDuff, a notorious serial killer, had paid bribes to receive early parole. Dubbed a “killing machine”, McDuff left a trail of bodies after his release from prison. He became the first person in Texas history to receive three death penalty convictions for murder.
Riggs discovered that McDuff’s release was just the tip of the iceberg. Dozens of violent criminals were released under a corrupt system. They spread a wave of terror across Texas in the 1990’s.
Free To Kill — An Investigation Into The Parole of Serial Killer Kenneth McDuff by Robert Riggs
Riggs’ investigative reports about the McDuff parole scandal prompted the federal prosecution of top state officials and the first overhaul of the Texas penal code in twenty years. The legislature enacted a mandatory life sentence for violent offenders named the “McDuff Law”.
Investigator for Congressman Wright Patman
Prior to his journalism career, Riggs served as an investigator for the late Congressman Wright Patman of Texas. Representative Patman, as Chairman of the House Banking Committee, attempted to launch the first congressional investigation into the Watergate Scandal.
Patman’s Administrative Assistant, Baron I. Shacklette, a legendary investigator on Capitol Hill, helped Riggs hone investigative skills.
Riggs served as the Chief Investigator for the Joint Committee on Defense Production. The Committee’s investigations picked up trails of corruption where the Watergate investigation left off. While working for the Committee, Riggs reported to its Joint Chairmen, Congressman Patman, and Senator William Proxmire.
The Committee’s investigation of a defense contractor’s bribery scheme contributed to the passage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Riggs held a Top Secret security clearance from the Department of Defense and received training from both the GAO and U.S. Army.
Texas A&M University Outstanding Alumnus Award Robert Riggs
Texas A&M University honored Riggs as an Outstanding Alumnus from the College of Architecture in 2001. The College recognized his achievements in journalism.
Riggs was the first non-practicing architecture graduate to receive the award in its 100-year history.